Kirkland and King County agree to Strategic Plan terms
At its April 16, 2013 meeting, the Kirkland City Council unanimously voted to approve placing the countywide Media One/EMS levy on the 2013 November ballot. Since late 2011, City of Kirkland leaders have been actively participating in the efforts to adopt the King County Medic One/Emergency Medical System (EMS) Strategic Plan and in discussions on the reauthorization of the six-year EMS levy for the years 2014-2019. As a partner in the county EMS system with a population greater than 50,000, Kirkland and eight other King County cities have the authority to endorse or oppose placing the countywide levy on the ballot. Throughout its participation, Kirkland sought to have its own ALS Paramedic Unit to better serve the needs of Kirkland residents, at no additional cost to the levy. Also, Kirkland sought to remove language from the Strategic Plan that prevented any new EMS regional partner from becoming a paramedic provider. After many talks between Kirkland and King County elected officials and staff, the County’s Regional Policy Committee unanimously passed the Medic One/EMS Strategic Plan on April 10, 2013 with amendments to remove the restrictions and call for an evaluation of Kirkland becoming a paramedic provider. It is anticipated that the King County Council will soon take formal action on placing the levy on the ballot.
“Our primary goal, which is no different than other participating agencies, is ensure the health and safety our citizens by providing an efficient and cost effective EMS services,” notes Kirkland Council Member Penny Sweet, and chair of the City’s Public Safety Committee. “We serve a much larger population since the 2011 annexation and will always provide high-quality services that meet our communities’ priorities.”
The adopted Strategic Plan also calls for a study to evaluate the number of ALS providers throughout King County.
“The Kirkland City Council takes our public safety obligations very seriously. We worked diligently to bring opportunities into Kirkland’s department to improve quality in our emergency medical services,” said Kirkland Council Member Dave Asher and member of the county EMS Advisory Task Force and Kirkland’s Public Safety Committee. “We have made a step toward getting paramedics in our department, but there is still much work make this happen.”
To ensure continued EMS services in 2014 and beyond, a new Strategic Plan was needed to define the roles, responsibilities and programs provided by the regional system comprised of 30+ agency partners and to establish a levy rate to fund services. Core services offered to anyone who lives, works or visits King County include universal access through 9-1-1, dispatcher triage when emergency calls are received, Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), and transportation to hospitals.
“Our advocacy efforts have paid off and we are thankful for the collaboration of County Councilmembers Jane Hague, Kathy Lambert and Rod Dembowski,” acknowledges Kirkland City Council Member Toby Nixon and the third member of Kirkland’s Public Safety Committee. “We look forward to future teamwork as the ALS study gets underway.”
The Medic One/EMS system is funded with a 6-year EMS levy. The current EMS levy expires on December 31, 2013. The proposed levy rate is 33.5 cents per $1,000 of Assessed Valuation (AV). Under state law, the levy can be reauthorized for 6 years, 10 years, or for an indefinite amount of time, at a maximum rate of $.50 per $1,000 AV. For more information about the Medic One/EMS system, go to www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ems.